Playlist: Bagpipe B-sides

The Scots have had a busy old year. The vote for Scottish independence divided the country and everything got a wee bit serious. As the dust settles around Alex Salmond’s feet it seems an appropriate time to join in unison and party. What better excuse to join a nation than their patrons saint day, St. Andrew’s Day. If there is one thing we can infer from Scotland’s alcohol sales’ statistic is they know how to party. Here’s the perfect playlist to celebrate a country of music and festivities. 

Franz Ferdinand – ‘You’re The Reason I’m Leaving’

Although Glaswegian indie-rock band Franz Ferdinand are more famous for their upbeat singles ‘Take Me Out’ and ‘Do You Want To’, nothing screams Scottish more than having supported the nation’s favourite one-eyed idiot. An album track from 2005’s You Could Have It So Much Better, ‘You’re The Reason I’m Leaving’ contains the prophetic lines “I’d no idea that in four years / I’d be hanging from a beam / Behind the door of number ten”, accompanied by jangly, palm-muted guitar. Unlucky Tony Blair. Political commentators they may not be, but they certainly got behind the rugged Chancellor and more recently the ‘Yes’ campaign: true Scots the lot of them.

Avast! – ‘Faultlines’

Around the same time that Biffy Clyro were transitioning from darlings of the underground alt. rock scene into the chart topping, arena conquering pop giants they are today, Dundee’s Avast! were putting out “Faultlines”. Although it was met with widespread apathy and failed to make any waves, the 2006 album predates the current raging revival of Midwestern emo by a few years and could easily slide right into the Count Your Lucky Stars or Topshelf roster today as a standout release.

What sets “Faultlines” apart from the current slew of Braid obsessed boys in their twenties playing in D A E A C# E tuning is the apparent influence of the early 2000s UK alternative/Post-Hardcore scene. They may be subtle, but the traces of Million Dead and Hundred Reasons are definitely there, and the blending of this particularly British sound with a genre so deeply rooted in the American experience is a novel one that pays off and makes faultlines such a rewarding listen.

Frightened Rabbit- ‘Good Arms vs Bad Arms’

Scott Hutchison’s Scottish accent fits perfectly with Frightened Rabbit’s brand of downbeat indie rock. This pleasing combination is there in all its glory on ‘Good Arms vs Bad Arms’, possibly the best song on 2008’s modern classic The Midnight Organ Fight, which sees him contemplate beating his ex’s new lover with a brick. ‘I might not want you back but I want to kill him’ he sings bluntly, nailing the sense of anger and confusion that accompanies the end of so many relationships. An exceptionally relatable Scottish lyricist at his best.

Twin Atlantic – ‘Make a  Beast of Myself’

‘Make a Beast of Myself’, released in 2011, launched the career of Twin Atlantic, a band which is certainly proud to be Scottish. Since then they’ve played many festivals including Reading and Leeds and T in the Park, and have more recently released their new studio album ‘Great Divide’ to coincides with a Europe-wide tour. Part of the charm of this band is that the lead singer actually utilises his Scottish accent which unfortunately can sometimes be lost in some singers. This makes the songs more distinctive and a lot more fun to sing-a-long to: For example, try singing the first verse of this song without the Scottish accent.  Now try with the Scottish. Doesn’t it sound better? The accent is a huge part of the song and really makes it that bit more special.

Biffy Clyro – ‘Liberate the Illiterate’

As one of the most influential and commercially successful bands of late, the Scottish three-piece have enjoyed a long and varied career in which their sound has oscillated between experimental math and the anthemic rock which has come to define their latest releases. ‘Liberate the Illiterate’ stands out as a highlight of their 2003 album The Vertigo of Bliss, as a moving archetype of Biffy’s early work – with chord driven chorus, varying time signatures, and enough changes in style across its five and a half minutes that you’ll forget it’s the same song, the track stands as a testament to their creative prowess.

The Amazing Snakeheads – ‘I’m a Vampire’

“She’s more beautiful than any woman I’ve met, and she fucking knows it”. – It’s safe to assume that The Amazing Snakeheads weren’t trying to be too poetic here, but that’s exactly why their song, I’m a Vampire is so brilliant. On their entire debut album, in fact, the band has blended genres at will, producing what can only be called punkabilly. It sounds like if Elvis had a Mohawk and sore throat. Obviously, that can only be a good thing.

Joseph McGrath, Bradley Finney, Jack Langslow, Abigail Houseman, James Noble, David Rowlands

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